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Daniel Oran - Oran's Dictionary of the Law

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238 Implied-in-law contract

Implied-in-law contract A quasi contract.

Import-export clause The provision of the U.S. Constitution (Section 10, Clause 2) that no state may tax imports and exports unless the tax is absolutely necessary for inspection laws or otherwise permitted by Congress.

Impossibility That which cannot be done. A contract is not binding and cannot be enforced if it is physically impossible (for example, to be in two places at once); legally impossible (for example, to make a contract at age four); or logically impossible (for example, to sell a car for one thousand dollars when the buyer pays two thousand for it). These are all examples of “objective impossibility.” However, “subjective impossibility” (such as not having enough money to pay for something you have contracted to buy) will not get you out of a contract.

Imposts Taxes; import taxes.

Impound 1. Take a thing into the custody of the law until a legal question about it is decided. 2. Impoundment is an action by a president or governor to prevent the spending of public money that the legislature has ordered spent. 3. An impound account is money set aside for future use. 4. Seal a legal record. See sealed.

Impracticability Less than an impossibility and more than a big inconvenience; difficult, to the point where it would be unreasonable or unfair to require something.

Impressment The act of forcibly taking for public use or service, such as forcing a person into the army or forcing a merchant seaman or merchant ship into the navy.

Imprest 1. A loan or advance. 2. An imprest fund contains “petty cash.” Imprimatur (Latin) “Let it be printed.” Official government permission

to publish a book. This is not needed in the U.S.

Imprisonment 1. Putting a person in prison. 2. Depriving a person of personal liberty in any physical way.

Improper accumulation Too much profit that is kept by a business to shield the owners from personal taxes. See accumulated earnings tax.

Improvement 1. An addition or change to land or buildings that increases the value. More than a repair or replacement. See repair for the tax difference. 2. Any development of land.

Improvident A judge’s decision, judgment, or order is “improvidently granted ” if the judge later thinks that he or she made a mistake.

Imputed Something is “imputed ” to you if, even though you do not know a fact, you should have known it (both legally and actually) or if,

In forma pauperis 239

even though you are not physically responsible for something, you are legally responsible. See the words following for examples.

Imputed income If you do certain kinds of activities, income will be imputed to you for tax purposes whether or not money was actually paid.

Imputed knowledge If the facts are available to you and if it is your duty to know those facts, knowledge may be imputed to you and you are treated legally as if the facts are known.

Imputed negligence If David is negligent and Paul is responsible for David’s actions, David’s negligence is imputed (carried over or attributed) to Paul.

Imputed notice If Linda is given notice of something (a fact, a lawsuit, etc.) and Linda is Ruth’s agent (lawyer, manager, etc.), then notice to Linda can be imputed as notice to Ruth.

In autre droit (French) “In another’s right.” Representing someone else (as an executor, trustee, etc.) in a legal proceeding. [pronounce: in oh-tra dwat]

In banc See banc.

In being Existing now. See life in being.

In blank Without restriction. Signing a negotiable instrument, such as a check, without making it payable to anyone in particular (leaving the “pay to” space empty).

In camera (Latin) “In chambers”; in a judge’s private office; also describes a hearing in court with all spectators excluded.

In common With others; by all without division; together. Describes something shared on equal terms. For example, if two people own a house “in common,” they both own all of it.

In eadem causa (Latin) In the same condition. [pronounce: in e-a-dem cow-sa]

In esse (Latin) In being; now existing.

In evidence 1. Facts or things that are already before the court as evidence. 2. Facts in evidence” may be those facts already fully proved (but not necessarily believed, or believed to be important, by the jury).

In extremis (Latin) In the last illness before dying. In faciendo (Latin) While doing something.

In fieri (Latin) Incomplete. In the process of happening or being made. [pronounce: in fa-yer-e]

In forma pauperis (Latin) “As a pauper.” Describes a court filing that is permitted without payment of the customary fees or court costs if the person filing proves that he or she is too poor to pay.

240 In futuro

In futuro (Latin) In the future; at some future time.

In genera In kind.

In haec verba (Latin) In these (same) words. In hoc (Latin) In this; concerning this.

In integrum (Latin) To the original or former state.

In invitum (Latin) Against an adversary.

In jure (Latin) In law or by right. In jure alterius means “by another’s right.”

In kind The same type of thing. For example, a loan is returned “in kind ” when a closely similar, but not identical, object is returned. An in kind contribution is of labor, materials, etc., rather than money.

In lieu of Instead of; in place of.

In limine (Latin) “At the beginning”; preliminary. A motion in limine is a (usually pretrial) request that prejudicial information be excluded as trial evidence.

In litem (Latin) See ad litem.

In loco parentis (Latin) In the place of a parent; acting as a parent with respect to the care and supervision of a child; acting with the power to discipline a child as a parent can.

In medias res (Latin) Into the heart or middle of a subject without introduction or preface.

In pais (French) 1. Describes an act done informally, as opposed to one done by taking legal action or by making a formal document. 2. Outside of the courtroom. See pais. [pronounce: in pay]

In pari delicto

See pari delicto.

In pari materia

See pari materia.

In perpetuity


In personam (Latin) Describes a lawsuit brought to enforce rights against another person, as opposed to one brought to enforce rights in a thing against the whole world (in rem). For example, a suit for automobile accident injuries is in personam because it is against the driver or owner only. A suit to establish title to land is in rem because, even if there is a person fighting the claim on the other side, a victory is binding against the whole world and a “thing” is primarily involved.

In pleno lumine (Latin) “In daylight”; common knowledge. In posse (Latin) “In possibility”; not now or yet existing.

In praesenti (Latin) Right now.

In principio (Latin) At first; at the start.

Inadvertence 241

In promptu (Latin) 1. Now ready; in readiness. 2. Without preparation.

In propria causa nemo judex (Latin) No one can be a judge in his or her own case.

In propria persona (or in pro. per.) Pro se.

In re (Latin) “In the matter of.” This is a prefix to the name of a case “concerned with something,” rather than a lawsuit directly between two persons. For example, “In re Brown’s Estate” might be the name of a proceeding in probate court to dispose of the property of a dead person. The words are also sometimes used when a child is involved. For example, “In re Mary Smith” might be the name of a child neglect proceeding even though it is really against the parents. “In re” should not be used in an ordinary sentence as a substitute for “concerning.” [pronounce: in ray]

In rem (Latin) Describes a lawsuit brought to enforce rights in a thing against the whole world as opposed to one brought to enforce rights against another person. For an example of each type of suit, see in personam. Also, there is a type of lawsuit “in between” in rem and in personam called “quasi in rem” or “sort of concerning a thing.” Quasi in rem actions are really directed against a person, but are formally directed only against property (or vice versa); for example, a mortgage foreclosure.

In se (Latin) In and of itself. [pronounce: in say]

In solido (Latin) “As a whole”; joint and several (see that word). Each of several persons liable for an in solido debt can be held responsible for the entire debt.

In specie (Latin) 1. In the same or similar form or way; in kind. But see no. 2. 2. In specific; specific. For example, “performance in specie” usually is given the same meaning as “specific performance.

In terrorem (Latin) “In threat”; “in terror”; “by threat.” An in terrorem clause in a will “threatens” a beneficiary with revocation of that person’s bequest if he or she contests the will.

In testimonium (Latin) As a witness to; as evidence of. In the black (red) Making a profit (taking a loss).

In toto (Latin) In whole; completely.

In transitu (Latin) While in transit.

Inadmissible Refers to facts or things that cannot be admitted into evidence in a trial; for example, evidence from an illegal search or most hearsay.

Inadvertence 1. Lack of attention or carelessness. 2. Excusable mistake or oversight.

242 Inalienable

Inalienable Something that cannot be given away, taken away, or sold. For example, “inalienable rights” are those basic constitutional rights that cannot be taken away.

Inc. Incorporated; for example: “Pink Ink, Inc.” is the Pink Ink Corporation.

Incapacity 1. Lack of legal ability or power to do something. For example, a child has a legal incapacity to vote or make contracts. 2. An injury bad enough to prevent working.

Incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison.

Incest Sexual intercourse between a man and woman who, according to state law, are too closely related by blood or adoption.

Inchoate Partial, unfinished, unripened. For example, an “inchoate instrument ” is a document, such as a deed, that is valid between the parties, but will not give the holder full rights or protections against most others until it is registered or recorded with the proper officials. [pronounce: in-ko-ate]

Incident of ownership An indication that a right or some property has been kept rather than fully given away; some measure of control kept over something.

Incidental Depending upon or relating to something else more important. “Incidental damages” are the “side costs” of a broken contract, such as storing the goods you thought were sold. A search is incidental to an arrest (and thus permissible) only if it is at the same time, limited in scope, and for a definite purpose.

Incite Urge, provoke, strongly encourage, or stir up.

Included offense A crime with a legal definition that is part, but not all, of the legal definition of a more serious crime. For example, manslaughter is a lesser crime included in murder. Also called “lesser included offense.

Inclusio unius See expressio unius.

Income 1. Money gains from business, work, or investments. 2. All financial gain. 3. Accrued income is earned but not necessarily received; earned income is from work or a business, rather than from investments; gross income is what is taken in before deductions; imputed income is a benefit that will be taxed as income even though it doesn’t look like income; and ordinary income is from wages, interest, etc. (everything except capital gains, such as from the sale of stocks that go up, etc.).

Income averaging Reducing your taxes by showing that your income in prior years was far lower and by paying tax on the basis of your

Incorporate by reference 243

average income for several years. Income averaging is currently available only for certain farmers.

Income basis A way of figuring out the rate of return (payoff) of a security (such as a stock or bond) by dividing the interest income or dividend paid in that time period by what you paid to buy the security.

Income splitting (or shifting) See assignment of income. Income statement See statement of income.

Income tax A tax on profits from business, work, or investments, but not on the increase in value of investments or property before they are sold. For income tax return, see tax return.

Incompatibility 1. Describes two or more ideas or things that cannot logically, physically, or legally coexist. 2. The inability of a husband and wife to live together in marriage. “Incompatibility” is “grounds” for a divorce in some states. In these states, a divorce may be granted without either person being at fault.

Incompetency The lack of legal ability to do something; the condition of persons who lack the mental ability to manage their own affairs and who have someone appointed by the state to manage their finances.

Incompetent evidence Facts, objects, testimony, etc., that may not be admitted into (used as) evidence in a legal proceeding.

Incomplete transfer A gift or other transfer of property made by a person who keeps some of the control or benefits. If the person then dies, the value of that property may be included in his or her estate for tax purposes. See also incident of ownership.

Inconsistent Contradictory, so that if one thing is valid, another thing cannot be valid. Or, if one thing is allowed to happen, another thing cannot be.

Incontestability clause A provision in a life or health insurance policy that after a certain number of years the insurance company cannot get out of the contract by claiming that statements made in the original application were wrong.

Inconvenience A broad word meaning anything from trivial problems to serious hardship or injustice. See also forum non conveniens.

Incorporate Formally create a corporation, usually by filing articles of incorporation and paying a fee. The persons who do this are called incorporators.

Incorporate by reference Make a part of something else by mere mention. For example, if document A says that “document B is incorporated by reference,” then document B becomes a part of document

244 Incorporation doctrine

A even though the words in document B are not rewritten into document A.

Incorporation doctrine The principle that the Bill of Rights, which protects persons against certain actions of the federal government, also protects against most, but not all such actions by a state government because the Fourteenth Amendment requires it.

Incorporeal Intangible; without physical substance. Rights such as patents are called incorporeal property.

Incorrigible Uncorrectable or unmanageable. An incorrigible juvenile is a child who cannot be managed or controlled by parents or guardians.

Increment 1. One piece or part of a piece-by-piece increase (or decrease, which is also called a decrement). 2. Anything gained or added. 3. The process of gaining or adding to something.

Incriminate Implicate in a crime or show involvement in a crime. Incriminatory Tending to show guilt.

Incroachment See encroachment.

Inculpate 1. Accuse of guilt or crime. 2. Involve in guilt or crime. Incumbent 1. A person who presently holds an office (usually an elec-

tive public office). 2. Required.

Incumber See encumber. Incumbrance See encumbrance.

Incur Get. Get something bad, such as a debt or liability, because the law places it on you. For example, you incur a liability when a court gives a money judgment against you.

Indebitatus assumpsit See assumpsit.

Indecent A general term meaning “offensive to public morality.” For example: indecent assault (fondling or otherwise touching an unwilling person but with no intent to commit rape); indecent exposure (showing genitals in a public place); indecent liberties (fondling or otherwise taking sexual advantage of a child); and indecent speech (words, visuals, or symbolic actions that depict or describe, in an offensive way, sexual or excretory activities or organs). Indecent speech is not necessarily obscene.

Indefeasible Describes a right that cannot be defeated, revoked, or taken away.

Indefinite sentence See indeterminate sentence.

Indemnify Compensate or promise to compensate a person who has suffered a loss or may suffer a future loss.

Indexing 245

Indemnity A contract to compensate or reimburse a person for possible losses of a particular type; a type of insurance.

Indenture 1. The written agreement of sale for bonds that contains the maturity date, interest rate, etc. 2. Any mortgage or similar agreement in which there is a lien or similar security interest. 3. An apprenticeship agreement. 4. An old word for a formal paper, such as a deed, with identical copies for each person signing it. 5. An old word for a deed to real estate containing promises by both the grantor and grantee.

Independent agency A federal agency, board or commission that is not a part of one of the cabinet departments. These include the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Reserve Board, and many others.

Independent contractor A person who contracts with an “employer” to do a particular piece of work by his or her own methods and under his or her own control.

Independent counsel An outside lawyer hired for special tasks, such as to give impartial advice or to conduct an investigation. When a government agency hires the lawyer for a criminal investigation, the word used is sometimes “special prosecutor.” (The chief investigator in the Nixon impeachment was a special prosecutor and in the Clinton impeachment an independent counsel.)

Independent source rule The general rule that if new evidence can be traced to a source completely apart from the illegally gathered evidence that first led to the new evidence, it may be used by the government in a criminal trial. Compare with fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.

Indestructible trust A Clafin trust.

Indeterminate With the exact time period not set. For example, an indeterminate sentence is a criminal sentence with a maximum or minimum set, but not the exact amount of time. Some states allow judges to set only indeterminate sentences, and have special boards to decide the exact sentence later.

Index fund A mutual fund that invests in stocks in the proportion that those stocks make up an index, such as the Dow Jones 30, Standard & Poor’s 500, or Russell 3000. Its returns should generally parallel those of the index.

Index offenses The major crimes reported to the F.B.I., such as murder, rape, robbery, etc.

Indexing Linking the level of payments (on bonds, wages, pension benefits, etc.) to an index such as the Consumer Price Index.

246 Indian

Indian The word used for Native American in statutes and judicial decisions before about 1975. For Indian reservation, see reservation.

Indicia Indications; pointers; signs; circumstances that make a certain fact probable, but not certain. For example, indicia of partnership are those circumstances that tend to show that a particular business arrangement is a partnership, and indicia of title are documents, such as photocopies of bills of sale, that show, but not conclusively, who holds title to personal property. [pronounce: in-dish-ee-a]

Indictment A sworn written accusation of a crime, made against a person by a prosecutor to a grand jury. If the grand jury approves it as a true bill, the indictment becomes the document used against the person as a defendant in pretrial and trial proceedings. [pronounce: in-dite-ment]

Indigent A poor person. An indigent criminal defendant is entitled to a free court-appointed lawyer.

Indignity In divorce law, a type of mental cruelty that makes a marriage intolerable. Indignity includes continued abusive language and ridicule, and is grounds for divorce in some states.

Indirect attack Collateral attack.

Indirect contempt See contempt.

Indirect cost Fixed charges.

Indirect evidence Circumstantial evidence.

Indirect tax 1. A tax on a right, privilege, or event (such as the granting of the right to incorporate) rather than a tax on a purchase or on income, etc. 2. The opposite of a direct tax (see that word).

Indispensable party A person who has such a stake in the outcome of a lawsuit that the judge will not make a final decision unless that person is formally joined as a party to the lawsuit.

Individual Retirement Account A bank or investment account into which some persons may set aside a certain amount of their earnings each year and have the interest taxed only later when withdrawn.

(Some spouses without income may have I.R.A.s, and some persons who have tax-deferred pension or profit-sharing plans have limited or no use of I.R.A.s, depending on their income.) See also Keogh Plan and S.E.P.

Indorse Sign a paper or document.

Indorsement 1. Signing a document “on the back” or merely signing it anywhere. 2. Signing a negotiable instrument, such as a check, in a way that causes the piece of paper, and the rights it stands for, to transfer to another person. A qualified indorsement limits rights (for

Infirmity 247

example, signing “without recourse”) and a restrictive indorsement limits its purpose or the person who may use it (for example, signing “for deposit”). For accommodation, blank, and conditional indorsements, see those words. 3. The signatures themselves in definitions no. 1 and no. 2.

Inducement 1. A statement or promise by a person that convinces another person to make a deal. A benefit or advantage of a deal. 2. A thing that convinces someone to do something. The motive for an action.

Industrial relations All employer-employee matters, such as safety, benefits, union recognition and bargaining, etc.

Industrial union A labor union whose members may have different skills, but who work for the same type of industry (printing, clothing manufacture, etc.).

Industry Any type of trade or business.

Ineffective counsel See effective counsel.

Inevitable discovery The principle that even if criminal evidence is gathered by unconstitutional methods, the evidence may be admissible if it definitely would have come to light anyway.

Infamy The loss of a good reputation because of conviction of a major crime, and the loss of certain legal rights that accompanies this loss of reputation. An infamous crime used to be defined by type (such as treason), but is now defined by punishment possible (such as over a year in prison).

Infancy A general word for being a very young child. In some states, however, this means the same as minority. An infant is either a very young child or a minor (see that word).

Inference A fact (or proposition) that is probably true because a true fact (or proposition) leads you to believe that the inferred fact (or proposition) is also true. For example, if the first four books in a set of five have green covers, it is a reasonable inference that the fifth book has a green cover.

Inferior court 1. Any court but the highest one in a court system. 2. A court with special, limited responsibilities, such as a probate court.

Infeudation An obsolete word for granting a freehold.

Infirmative Describes evidence or theories that weaken the impact of other evidence or theories. In criminal law, tending to exculpate.

Infirmity A defect. For example, if the papers that transfer a title are defective, the title transferred has an infirmity.

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